There’s no more crucial time to identify the top sleepers of the week than the championship round of the fantasy football playoffs. Of course, fantasy owners who are competing for a title this week presumably have great rosters, but injuries, COVID complications, and tough matchups will make looking for Week 17 streamers and handcuffs a necessity. We’re here to help you with that process. Whether it’s with players on your roster or those sitting on the waiver wire and free agency, guys like Boston Scott and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are ready to contribute to your team and help you win the fantasy Super Bowl.
As always, any of our selections could bust this week, but so could bona fide studs. We’re taking some chances here, as we don’t want to say anyone too obvious. A list of easy choices wouldn’t do anyone any good. You aren’t going to start the guys below over consistent, proven producers, but you’re probably not searching for fantasy sleepers if your lineup is set. We know a small percentage of fantasy owners are actually still alive and going for a ring here, but our list can also help you find sleepers for DFS tournaments who should have low price tags.
Ameer Abdullah really let us down in Week 16, but Michael Carter came through with a good fantasy day and Jamaal Williams was fine in standard leagues. At QB, Matt Ryan, Tua Tagovailoa, and Jimmy Garoppolo failed to go off, but with so many backup and “bad” QBs in starting roles last week, they seemed like “safe” choices. Amon-Ra St. Brown was our biggest hit, but DeVante Parker, Jared Cook, and Albert Okwuegbunam didn’t deliver. Ultimately, we took a lot of chances since a ton of guys are missing action each week, but with just a small percentage of fantasy owners still competing, there won’t be a ton of people that will have to reach deep into the waiver wire to find production.
Week 17 Fantasy Sleepers: Running backs
Boston Scott, Eagles @ Washington (Jackson Sparks). Washington is a neutral matchup for RBs on paper, but we know its defense has looked like the worst stop-unit in the league by far in recent weeks. With Miles Sanders (hand) out, Scott will at least have somewhat of a role in the Eagles’ offense. Jordan Howard (stinger) could also miss this contest, and if that’s the case, Scott will be on the must-start border.
Derrick Gore, Chiefs at Bengals (Vinnie Iyer). With Clyde Edwards-Helaire (shoulder) set to miss more time, Gore should fill nicely behind Darrel Williams as the power back, giving him flex appeal in what should be an even or positive game script.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Buccaneers @ Jets (Matt Lutovsky). Vaughn played 24 snaps last week – 11 fewer than Ronald Jones. He made the most of his playing time, though, rushing for 70 yards and a score on a highlight-reel run. Against by far the worst run defense in football, Vaughn should get enough carries – be it early or in garbage time – to post solid, flex-worthy numbers.
Week 17 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Quarterbacks
Ryan Tannehill, Titans vs. Dolphins (Sparks). Tannehill has been one of the biggest QB busts this season, but A.J. Brown’s Week 16 performance against the Niners has us hoping for a big game here. Tannehill has the most rushing TDs by a QB since the start of the 2020 season, so the rushing upside is also present. If Brown goes beast mode, Tannehill will inevitably have a solid fantasy day, and a rushing score would put him in the QB1 range. Miami has gone from one of the worst defenses against fantasy QBs to one of the best, but that’s largely due to matchups with Tyrod Taylor, Joe Flacco, Ian Book, Zach Wilson, Mike Glennon, and Cam Newton over the past six weeks. Expect it to look weak again in the matchup.
Trey Lance, 49ers vs. Texans (Iyer). He gets the keys to Jimmy G’s wonderful toys, and he brings a weapon of his own in the running game to play off a dominant rushing attack.
Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins @ Titans (Lutovsky). We’re back on the Tua train despite his disappointing showing in New Orleans last week. We’ll chalk that up to Miami not needing to pass much. Against a more potent offense – and even worse pass defense – Miami will have to air it out, and Tagovailoa has enough weapons to post a borderline QB1 day.
Week 17 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Wide receivers
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Packers vs. Vikings (Sparks). MVS has 30-plus fantasy point upside in the best matchup for WRs possible, so we’re OK starting him even though he’s a pure boom-or-bust play. He’s shown time and time again he can score deep touchdowns, so shoot for the upside here in this NFC North rematch. Aaron Rodgers was outdueled by Kirk Cousins in the first matchup, so expect an offensive explosion from Green Bay at home.
Jarvis Landry, Browns at Steelers (Iyer). The Steelers have struggled in coverage with the middle of the field, and Landry should be fed a lot of short passes as extensions of Nick Chubb’s running.
Breshad Perriman, Buccaneers @ Jets (Lutovsky). Perriman had a December to remember for the Bucs (and fantasy owners) back in 2019, posting 285 yards and four scores in Weeks 14-16. He’s back from the reserve/COVID list, and with Chris Godwin (knee) out and Mike Evans (hamstring, reserve/COVID) likely out, Perriman is in position to step up in a favorable matchup against New York’s overmatched defense.
Week 17 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Tight ends
Tyler Higbee, Rams @ Ravens (Sparks). Higbee has drawn five or more targets in his past five games and is being more involved in the offense than earlier in the season. The Ravens have looked like one of the worst pass defenses in football thanks to a slew of injuries, and it has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to TEs. Ultimately, you should be starting Odell Beckham Jr. and Van Jefferson in this one, too. Of course, Higbee could go quiet with all the target competition, but his upside is as high as ever — right when it’s needed in the final week of the fantasy season.
Foster Moreau, Raiders at Colts (Iyer). The Doctor should be on an island often against a giving zone defense, playing well off Hunter Renfrow.
Mo Alie-Cox, Colts vs. Raiders (Lutovsky). Jack Doyle (knee, ankle) is ailing, so Alie-Cox should see the bulk of the TE snaps for Indy. The Raiders have been one of the worst defenses against TEs all year, and with Indy likely utilizing a conservative game plan regardless of who starts under center, MAC should be in line for a decent amount of targets, particularly in the red zone.
Week 17 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Defense
Chicago Bears vs. Giants (Sparks). Mike Glennon or Jake Fromm? It doesn’t matter. Any defense going against the Giants this week would have some starting consideration, and since the Bears are the ninth-best stop-unit in total defense, we’re happy to roll with it here. Chicago’s D/ST ranks inside our top 10 this week.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Lions (Iyer). This didn’t work well against the Bears, but Seattle shows some real pride in making some plays on the Lions.
New Orleans Saints vs. Panthers (Lutovsky). New Orleans should only be healthier in general this week, and it’s not as if the D/ST was bad last Monday (three sacks, takeaway, 14 offensive points allowed). The Panthers are a mess with their rotating QBs, so expect a solid outing in a must-win matchup for the Saints.